Fear of Missing Out (“FOMO”) in Sport Participation

I remember the day when a parent came to me complaining that their child didn’t want to continue to play basketball, which she was playing for 2 years. She was only 10 years old.

Speaking to the parents gave me an insight that they wanted her to play as she knew the game very well, she had an identity at school as being in the school team and everyone in the school knowing her because of her basketball achievements. But the question here was “Did she want to play or the parents wanted her to play?”.

The parents got concerned with the fact that their child will miss out on practises and lack behind in comparison to other children who were practising with her. They didn’t want her to miss out great opportunities by not playing the sport. This time the parents were confused and angry both. The mom being the basketball player herself and fully involved in their child’s sport, was really affected by her daughter not participating in the game anymore. Here, the child was happy, but it was the mother who was experiencing the fear of missing out. Watching other better players of her age, the mother wondered to herself “what did she fail to do?”. The questions related to the fact that if my child does not do any extra training now, then will she make to the national team? Will she be getting admissions in a good sports college? How will she get good scholarships? These questions were driven by FEAR!

What is this FOMO?

FOMO is a “pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, and is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”. This FOMO takes away the ownership of the child’s sporting experience from them. Choosing a different path for your child by looking at the scientific evidence over overtraining and burnout levels among youth sports, would help in keeping up their enjoyment levels in whatever they do. It is a high time for the parents to be well aware to put a stop to this FOMO among the youth sport.

How can you overcome the FOMO?

1. Coach Selection

Selecting a coach who understands and cares about the person and not just the athlete and his/her achievements is one of the major steps to reduce this FoMo. The young child wants to look at positive role models as their coaches. Encouragement from the coaches with clarity in communication, with the understanding of the child’s learning style and active listening skills would be one of the factors to look for in coaches. Now the question is: As parents, do you evaluate your child’s coach based on these factors or only the results?

2. Reasons for Sport Participation

Understanding the reasons behind the purpose of their child’s sport participation helps in overcoming this FOMO; The enjoyment as well as social aspects of the game shouldn’t be overlooked. So, asking them about their love for sport and what makes them love their sport even more can help in understanding their perception over their sport.

3. Evaluating the child’s needs

Family values based on blind trust over the authority of sports coaches by never letting the child disrespecting them due to their FOMO or being afraid of their child getting blacklisted from that academy allows sports coaches to create a control over your child’s needs. The coaches are right many of the times, but understanding the child’s needs should be a priority.

4. Participation in Multiple Sports and Activities

Missing school due to specialised sport practises, not participating in other school activities apart from sport at an early age hampers with the child’s overall development! So, when in doubt, ask what your child wants, not side-lining his perspective of enjoyment. Read up the scientific research and be well-informed about the on-going facts, for example: Early Sport Specialization: Roots, Effectiveness, Risks (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068571).

5. Assessment of orientation of the academy

Being a part of the solution by being aware of the ongoing processes at the child’s academy by assessing these questions “Are they looking at only the results and treating the child based on their results? Or are they encouraging them to focus on the processes and the enjoyment aspects of the game?”

Whenever you experience the feeling of FOMO, do take a long deep breath and take a moment to assess whether not going to trainings sessions a few days will take your child behind or taking an off-season will boost your child’s enjoyment levels?  Reassess your decisions for your child by not hurrying due to a fear that if he/she doesn’t play a tournament or if he/she doesn’t go for every event or missing a practise session would hamper his/her ability to play! The child’s journey in the sport will be long by maintaining his/her intrinsic motivation with the enjoyment levels towards their sport. Don’t let the FOMO in their youth to be the cause of their missing out on their childhood.

Sanskriti Chhabra


Abel, J. P., Buff, C. L., & Burr, S. A. (2016). Social media and the fear of missing out: Scale development and assessment. Journal of Business & Economics Research (Online)14(1), 33.

JWT Marketing Communications. (2012, March 7). Fear of Missing Out. Retrieved from JWT Intelligence: http://www.jwtintelligence.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/F_JWT_FOMO-update_3.21.12.pdf

Przybylski, A. K., Murayama, K., DeHaan, C. R., & Gladwell, V. (2013). Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Computers in Human Behavior29(4), 1841-1848.

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